An advice note is a type of business document that affirms that an order placed by a customer has in fact been received and cleared for shipment, and is now on the way. Sometimes referred to as an advice of shipment, the intent of the document is to keep the client aware of the current status of the order, and also to ensure that the customer knows in advance when to expect the order to arrive. Once provided to clients in the form of a business letter delivered by post, many companies today make use of electronic mail or similar online notification processes to notify customers that an order has been processed and shipped, and to let the client know approximately when the order will arrive at the point of destination.
The advice note is somewhat similar in nature to what is known as an advice of acceptance. This document is often used in financial circles to affirm the extension of a line of credit to a customer, either by a vendor or by a financial institution such as a bank. While slightly different in purpose, both the advice note and the advice of acceptance do serve the purpose of notifying a client that the request he or she submitted has been approved and will soon be available for the use of that client.
The amount of detail included on an advice note will vary, sometimes based on local customs and at other times by trade laws that apply in the jurisdiction where the vendor or provider is based. Most versions of the note will include references to order numbers; any purchase order numbers provided by the client; a description that includes the type and quantity of goods included in the order; and even the total costs, including any shipping charges that are assessed by the vendor. The mode of shipment, including the name of the shipper, is also often part of the detail included. If the shipment is a partial fulfillment of a customer order, the detail may also identify which items will be shipped at a later date. When the detail on the advice note is fairly comprehensive, the client can use the detail to match with the original purchase order and have a good idea of when to expect each of the items involved with that order.
It is important to note that an advice note does not replace the actual bill of lading that accompanies the shipment, nor is it a document that serves as the packing list for the order. This type of business document is strictly informational, serving as a means of alerting the customer of when the order shipped, the shipment method used, the items included in the shipment, and the anticipated delivery date. Customers should wait until the order is received, checked for accuracy, and assessed for any damage in transit before remitting payment if at all possible.